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Tychonick’s U18 journey, NHL Draft prep

After two successful seasons in the BCHL and a recent trip to Russia for the U18 World Championship, Penticton Vees defenceman Jonny Tychonick shifts gears as he prepares for the NHL Entry Draft in June.

The Vees were eliminated in the Interior Division semifinals, allowing Tychonick to represent his country at the U18’s in Chelyabinsk and Magnitogorsk, Russia.

The 18-year-old gained valuable experience overseas despite a disappointing loss in the quarterfinals against the Czech Republic.

“Everything Hockey Canada does, from top to bottom, is unbelievable,” said Tychonick. “They put their time and energy into keeping us accountable and preparing us to do the best of our ability and all we have to do is play hockey. From the coaching staff, to the managers, to my teammates, I can’t say enough about how good they were and how well they treated all of us.

“It’s disappointing [to lose]. I think we all just take it as a learning experience. Learn how it sucked to lose and hopefully carry that into whoever gets an invite to the World Juniors and any other Hockey Canada event.”

During the tournament, Tychonick got an up-close look at some of the NHL’s top prospects from around the world.

“On our team, Alexis Lafrenière, he’s in the 2020 draft…he was unbelievable,” said Tychonick. “Adam Boquist, he’s rated pretty high on Sweden. He [gave them] that offensive upside, which is pretty cool to see. The U.S. as well, that powerhouse, with Jack Hughes and Oliver Wahlstrom, just to see how I can compete against them, after playing in the BCHL. I think the BCHL was a perfect league, I didn’t feel there was any downfall from my game and their games.”

After traveling 36 hours to get back to his hometown of Calgary, Alta., Tychonick now sets his sights on the NHL Draft Combine from May 27 to June 2.

“I’ve already got in contact with my trainer,” said Tychonick. “He’s working on an excellent plan to prepare for it. I know with the combine, they made a few adjustments with the testing, so that will be something to look at and kind of train for.

“It’s an unbelievable opportunity to be able to go there. I know, stories of the past, of the meetings being tough and stuff like that. I think if you just go in there with an open mind and just be yourself and be strong with what you say, that’s going to be the most important thing.”

In NHL Central Scouting’s final prospect ratings, released April 16, Tychonick was ranked number 36 among North American skaters, the highest of any BCHL prospect. Many other draft rankings have him going late in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. Although he is aware of the rankings, the six-foot, 175-pound blueliner isn’t putting too much thought into where he sits heading into the draft on June 22.

“With ratings and stuff like that, I’ve always considered them to be just a long-shot,” he said. “They probably have the top-10, top-15 pretty locked down, but other than that, I think it’s just going to be what the teams need. So I guess we’ll kind of wait and see what teams are looking for.”

Although his BCHL days are done, Tychonick will look back on his time in the league as an important step in his development as a hockey player and as a person. In his rookie season, he was part of the Penticton team that won the 2017 Fred Page Cup in dramatic fashion and eventually competed for a national championship at the RBC Cup.

“The thing that I remember about the playoffs was our seven-game series back-to-back-to-back,” he said. “You don’t see that often…We fell short in the RBC, but that experience was life-changing and that group of guys I’ll never forget.”

This past season, Tychonick improved in every statistical category, finishing third in scoring among defencemen with 47 points, more than double his output from the previous year, as well as being named a BCHL First-Team All-Star. He continued his productive season into the playoffs where he led the Vees in scoring and finished second overall in points by defecemen, despite being eliminated in the second round.

Even after receiving these individual accolades, Tychonick gives full credit to his teammates in helping him reach his lofty goals.

“If [the team is] not a close family, it’s going to be hard for me to have any of my successes,” he said. “My teammates did a fantastic job with making it easy on me and keeping it light and always kind of being there.”

Shortly after Penticton was eliminated, Tychonick headed to Russia for the U18’s, so it would be easy to forgive him for not being totally up-to-date with the BCHL Playoffs. Even with a 12-hour time difference and a busy schedule, he still found time to check out the boxscores and keep track of who was able to take home the Fred Page Cup.

“I know that Wenatchee won,” he said. “[It was] good to see, keeping the Fred Page [Cup] in the Interior Division…I knew that our division was a powerhouse this year and it was going to be tough to get out of. I hope they go all the way and are able to capture all three of those titles.”

Even before his name is called at the NHL Entry Draft in Dallas, Tychonick knows where he will suit up next season as he has committed to play for the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks in 2018-19.

“My expectations are obviously high,” he said. “I’m a competitor, so I always expect myself to be the best I can be all the time. I think the main thing is the work that I have to put in. I could be playing against 25-year-old men.

“There’s going to be the distractions of being a true freshman going in, which I’ve always heard has been difficult. I’ve got to enjoy it and work as hard as I can to earn my spot in that lineup and earn the respect of the coaches.”